Yeah, This Public Transportation ‘Penis Seat’ Is A Terrible Idea

Sexual assault and harassment in public places are an inescapable part of the lives of millions upon millions of women. Campaigns meant to raise awareness of the harassment women face have proliferated in recent years. Some are government sponsored and include anti-harassment posters prominently displayed in public transportation, while others are privately funded and include things like anti-harassment apps. But what most of these campaigns have in common, is a shared philosophy in which the goal is to promote the respectful treatment of all people and an acknowledgment of the difficulties faced by women—particularly women of color, LGBTQ women, and disabled women—as they go about their daily lives. These campaigns also often feature moving artwork and empowering text, and can serve as powerful reminders of our common humanity. And then there's the "penis seat."

Via Elle UK, we learned about the Mexico City Metro's current campaign against sexual violence, which consists of the installation of a "penis seat" on a train. What is a "penis seat," you ask? It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It is a seat with a penis on it. Oh, okay, it also has a molded male torso on it as well for, I don't know, verisimilitude, I guess. The idea behind the "penis seat" is that people will sit down on it without realizing that it's different from any of the other seats on the metro and will, upon feeling a penis pressed up against their seated selves, instantly understand what it feels like to be sexually assaulted, because they will have... just been sexually assaulted by a campaign against sexual violence. Yeah, I'm confused too.

Ordinarily with something like a misguided public service campaign, I'd be inclined to think that the group behind it at least meant well, but it's hard to think that this campaign was ever well-intentioned, since it mostly seems like nothing more than a play to create a viral video in which people jump up from the "penis seat" after feeling something uncomfortably shoved against their, well, butts. It's rather shocking to think that anyone thought that this was a good idea. Surely there are better ways to bring attention to the horrors of sexual assault than by committing it against even more people? All this campaign really does is deflect attention from the "9 out of 10 women in Mexico City [who] have been victims of some form of sexual violence," and put it squarely on a penis, which is pretty much the last thing victims of sexual assault need to be thinking about and seeing as they go about their daily lives.

You can watch the campaign video above; after viewing, consider making a donation to a group that actually helps women survivors, like the National Organization for Women. And then try and forget that the words "penis seat" were ever joined together. It's almost as bad a combo as "president" and "Trump."